Jordan Caron logs assist in season debut for Bruins

First, Jordan Caron hunted down a loose puck in the corner. Second, Caron protected the puck from Braydon Coburn by turning his back to the Flyers defenseman and keeping the cycle going. Third, Caron heard Chris Kelly call for the puck from the left circle.

Finally, Caron connected with Kelly, who responded by firing the puck past Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov at 13:28 of the first period.

“He made it look easy,” said Kelly, “but it’s not an easy play, especially when a guy’s on you.

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“He made a heads-up play to find that open man. Everyone’s collapsed down. That’s the way they defend. It was a great heads-up play by him.”

It was the type of play the Bruins want Caron to make. The third-year pro, making his season debut Saturday, has the hands and vision to be creative offensively. The Bruins could use more offensive touch on their third line.

Caron is the latest to audition in an unstable position. Chris Bourque was the No. 3 left wing for most of the season. In 18 games, he had one goal and three assists. With Bourque playing alongside Kelly and Rich Peverley, the line struggled to establish a presence at both ends of the rink.

Jay Pandolfo subbed in for Bourque in Thursday’s 4-2 win over Toronto. But Caron might be a longer-term solution, at least until Swedish forward Carl Soderberg commits to the Bruins following his team’s playoff run overseas.

The line looked more comfortable offensively and defensively with Caron on the wing.

“I thought he had a real good game today, and so did they,” coach Claude Julien said of Caron and his linemates. “Let’s not overlook the fact that Caron didn’t make that line all of a sudden be better. All three guys were really good today.

“I thought Pevs was skating well and was good. He was strong with the puck. So was Kells. That whole line was better today as a threesome.”

Caron submitted a solid effort. In 13:45 of ice time, he had one assist, two blocked shots, and one hit. Caron skated well, mucked in the corners, and didn’t hesitate to drive to the front of the net. Perhaps the only downside was the pair of times he iced the puck unnecessarily.

“I thought he was good today,” Julien said. “He skated well. He was strong. He was on the puck. He was forechecking.

“[The Flyers] were pinching pretty hard being down, 3-0. I thought he was solid along the walls in our own end. On Kelly’s goal, a lot of credit had to go his way. He got the puck off the wall, had some give-and-go, and found Kells in the slot. The major work was done by him.”

Loud response

Shawn Thornton took care of Zac Rinaldo in a second-period fight. Thornton responded after Rinaldo wiped out Johnny Boychuk with a thundering, but clean, hit.

“I thought they were running around a little bit,” Thornton said. “I thought maybe I’d address it. I don’t think it was a dirty hit, but it was probably the third or fourth from him. I thought I’d try to address it.”

Thornton (6 feet 2 inches, 217 pounds) overwhelmed Rinaldo (5-11, 169) with a string of uppercuts and a final right hand.Rinaldo is 101 pounds lighter than John Scott, the Buffalo heavyweight who staggered Thornton Jan. 31 at the Garden.

Talking it out

The zero-pulse Flyers closed the doors to their dressing room after the loss, their third straight. “We’ll see how we respond tomorrow,” Danny Briere said of Sunday’s game against the Sabres. “We all know that we are not happy with where we are. It would be really easy to just come out, point fingers, and kind of quit at this point. I really believe that nobody is going to do that. We’re going to keep working hard and find a way out of this mess.” . . . Andrej Meszaros, limited to the first four games of the season, returned to the Flyers lineup after missing 22 games because of a shoulder injury. Meszaros was Zdeno Chara’s defense partner in Ottawa . . . Pandolfo, Aaron Johnson, and Lane MacDermid were the Bruins’ healthy scratches . . . David Krejci missed two shifts because of an undisclosed injury. He went to the locker room briefly near the end of the second period, and wasn’t ready to start the third. Julien said Krejci will be ready to play Monday against Ottawa . . . Peverley recorded his 200th career point by assisting on Kelly’s first-period goal.